Also called the Brazen Palace, Lovamahapaya is almost 2000 years old palace and was built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century B.C. The most striking feature of this palace is its bronze tiles that add a dashing touch to the roof. The other prominent and attractive features of this palace include the 1600 stone columns that are as tall as 150 feet and support 9 stories with about 1000 rooms. It was initially used as a residence for Buddhist monks who would use it on the days of the “Poya” festival. And though it now lies in ruins, this massive palace is still a testament of a bygone age that speaks volumes about its rich culture and heritage.
Location: End of Trincomalee Rd, Anuradhapura 50000, Sri Lanka
Best known for: Bronze tiled roof
Distance from Colombo: 199.5 km
Things to do: Admire the architecture
The monastery of Jetavanaramaya is one of the largest monasteries in Anuradhapura. In fact, it was once the third-tallest structure in the whole world. The legend surrounding this ancient sanctum is that it’s the same place where Buddha’s sash or belt was tied and preserved for a long time, and that is what fascinates worshippers and history geeks from around the world and brings them here in large numbers every year. Luring in travelers with its enchanting historical significance, Jetavanaramaya still remains one of the largest holy structures in the world and is home to about 10,000 monks.
Location: Anuradhapura, North Central Province, Sri Lanka
Best known for: It’s massive height
Distance from Colombo: 202.2 km
Things to do: Learn about Buddhist culture
Ruwanwelisaya Stupa is among the largest stupas (also called dagobas) in Sri Lanka and one of the most prominent places to visit in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Built long ago by King Dutugamunu, this beautiful stupa is nestled right in the heart of the heritage city of Anuradhapura. Also called Maha Stupa, this adorned structure is over 338 feet tall and has large paved courts as well as platforms that all add a unique architectural touch to this magnificent structure. Recent renovations have earned this shrine the privilege of being one of the most revered sanctums of worship in Anuradhapura.
Location: Abhayawewa Rd, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Best known for: Overwhelming structure and architecture
Distance from Colombo: 200.6 km
Things to do: Admire the structure, seek blessings
Sri Maha Bodhi
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is among the most ancient trees in Sri Lanka that even today are thriving in the Mahamewna Gardens of Anuradhapura. This special tree is said to have grown out of a cutting that was brought here from Bodh Gaya in India. It is believed that it has been brought from the very same place where Gautama Buddha had attained enlightenment, thus making it one of the most popular places to visit at Anuradhapura for pilgrims and spiritual souls. It was cared for by the ancient kings and queens of Sri Lanka, as well as many Buddhist leaders. Flourishing even in the harshest of conditions, this tree is said to have such tranquil beauty that it instills a sense of calm and peace in visitors.
Location: Thuparama Dagoba, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Best known for: Incredibly long life and peaceful aura
Distance from Colombo: 200 km
Things to do: Spend a day amidst the purest form of nature!
Leaving Anuradhapura without exploring any dagobas is like a sin that you might not want to commit. This colossal dagoba can be dated back to the 1st century BC. The original height of Abhayagiri Dagoba was 100 meters owing to which it was one of the greatest structures in the world then. After reconstruction and preservation of this place, the height has been restored to 75 meters. The name of this place literally translates into the ‘Fearless Hill’ or ‘Hill of Protection’. You will find a slab with Buddha’s footprint and some moonstones.
Location: Watawandana Rd, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Best known for: massive structure and Buddha’s footprints
Distance from Colombo: 203.7 km
Things to do: Find peace!
Padeniya Raja Maha Viharaya
This Viharaya is located in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. There are many fascinating antiques in this place. Kurunegala city is known to be the birthplace of many interesting legends in the world. The Buddhist temple has been preserved and maintained very well. Due to this reason, there are more and more local as well as foreign travelers visiting this Viharaya.
It was the royal capital of Sri Lanka in ancient times. The temple was the home of a legendary giant, Therapuththabhaya who later on became a Buddhist monk. He was among the 10 giants of the army of Great King Dutugemunu.
Location: Anuradhapura-Padeniya Highway, Galgamuwa, Sri Lanka
Best known for: History and antiques
Distance from Colombo: 125 km
Things to do: Witness the antiques, explore the temple
A must-see tourist attraction, Anuradhapura is one of the most significant cities of the historic era of Sri Lanka, which has carried its legacy from the mid-5th century BC to 11th century AD. In terms of tourism in Anuradhapura, the city is renowned as a world heritage site by UNESCO, rife with restored monuments, refurbished structures, well-maintained historical sites and ruins, with ongoing excavations for archeological purposes.
This ancient city is encompassed by three artificial lakes, namely the Tissa Wewa reservoir & the Basawakkulama Wewa to the west, the Nuwara Wewa reservoir to the east and two directions of Anuradhapura defined by the River Malwatu Oya that also flows through the city. The following travel guide will tell you all you need to know when visiting Anuradhapura.
Located 205 km north of Colombo in the North Central Region, Anuradhapura is one of the oldest capitals in the country, popular for its well-maintained ancient ruins from Sri Lanka’s age-old civilization. One of the 8 world heritage sites in the country, Anuradhapura has been lived in uninterruptedly and was the core of Theravada Buddhism for many epochs.
A popular belief purports that Anuradhapura was the Sinhalese capital from 4th century BC until the beginning of the 11th century CE, during which it also stood as the most established and robust epicenter for politics and urbanization in South Asia. This ancient city which is regarded significantly in the Buddhist Community is encompassed with an area of over 16 sq. miles of monasteries.
Anuradhapura is serviced by highways and railways, with the Northern railway line connecting it to Colombo, Jaffna and Kankesanthurai. Being centrally located in the country, Anuradhapura connects to a number of major Sri Lankan cities directly by road, namely Puttalam, Dambulla, Trincomalee, Vavuinya, Matale, Kurunegala, Jaffna and Kandy.
There are flights from most metros in India to Sri Lanka that arrive at the Bandaranaike International Airport, also known as Colombo International or Katunayake Airport. With almost 19 flights out of New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai, you can book a flight out from India daily. Anuradhapura does not have an airport, so there are no direct flights from India to reach there. On arrival at Colombo, you can take a flight to the nearest airport to Anuradhapura, which is Sigiriya, Dambulla, about 79 km from mid of Anuradhapura.
There are about 4 flights that operate daily between Colombo and Sigiriya by Cinnamon Air and Sri Lankan Airlines. All of a 30-minute flight, there’s a 10.00 am flight and then a 2 pm flight by each carrier.
There are roughly half a dozen trains operational on the Colombo-Anuradhapura Route and it is best to board the train from Colombo Fort Station. The first train out of Colombo Fort Station leaves at 5.45 am and arrives in Anuradhapura at 9.15 am. The approximate train fare is LKR 1000, which is ideally booked in advance, since it’s an air-conditioned train with comfortable seating, making it the fastest and best way to reach Anuradhapura.
If you’d like to experience the rail services as the locals do, then riding aboard a non -A/c train is wise, although these trains may run late at times. You will not only enjoy the scenic views along the route but also witness the local hawkers selling peanuts, corn on the cob, hot snacks and green mangoes through the journey. A 2nd class ticket to Anuradhapura would cost you about LKR 750.
A bus ride from Colombo to Anuradhapura is comparatively cheaper than taking a flight, and the best way to reach Anuradhapura in about 5 hours or by car/taxi in 4 hours. With a bus station in New Town of Anuradhapura, you can travel via the A9 highway from Kandy, which is 166 km away, with Puttalam, another close city to Anuradhapura and a little further ahead would be Negombo.
There’s a bus from Colombo Central Bus Terminal, Olcott Mawatha, which will drive you to Puttalam in 3 hours and 45 min with an hourly frequency. From Puttalam, you travel by cab to Anuradhapura, which will have you reach there in about 1 hour 24 minutes. The bus journey’s likely to cost LKR 65-90, while the cab may cost you LKR 2,300-2,800.
Getting around in Anuradhapura is enjoyable both in buses and Tuk Tuks, which you’ll find in plenty. While the old town is large in area, tuk-tuks would be convenient. The new town being comparatively smaller, can be covered on foot in nearly ½ hour from one end to another
Weather in Anuradhapura of Sri Lanka is dry and sunny with moderate temperature, making it a pleasant destination for tourism. The best time to visit Anuradhapura is in the month of April through September. With the average temperature varying a little, the hottest time of the year in Anuradhapura is May, June and July, with the highest being 35.3°C in the latter half of May; and night temperature is 26°C roughly.
June through August is a period of least rainfall, with a chance of rain or snowfall in late October and early November for approx. 4 days. The most humid time of the year in Anuradhapura is December, with an average of 83.1%. The most ideal time to travel to Anuradhapura is hence July, August and January, with least incoming traffic in March.
With the combined features of temperatures and humidity levels, the weather’s quite warm with the highest temperature at 35.3°C in the day, and rainfalls confined to only 3-9 days in a month. Spring in Anuradhapura is the slowest for tourism, but opportune for some lucrative offers on travel.
The mid of the year witnesses a pleasant climate with the high temperature feeling quite warm and rainfalls of just a day or two at the maximum every month, making June through August the busiest time to be in Anuradhapura. It is best to book accommodation in advance, keeping the busy period in mind.
With the high temperatures oscillating between 34.3°C and 30°C, despite the humidity and wind levels, Anuradhapura experiences rain or snowfall 4-14 days in a month in autumn, slowing tourism down during this period. If you want to visit Anuradhapura during the fall season, you will find good deals on hotel stays and local tours.
In the winter months of December through February, warm weather travellers would enjoy the most. During this time, the average temperature is 32.6°C, on the higher side, while the minimum temperature is 28.7°C. Rainfall or snow occurs for about 5 days to a fortnight in a month, making it the second-best time of the year to visit AnuradhapuraBottom of Form
Anuradhapura has a variety of eateries in the new town, with local delicacies available at pocket-friendly prices with small bistros offering rolls and pastries that are delicious and economically priced as well. There are local stores and small street shops as well which have a variety of snacks, fresh fruits and lunch meals that are specifically available between 11 am to 2 pm. Be cautious of the local spices though!
The Nuwara Wewa Guesthouse is popular for its multi-cultural cuisines, where visitors can eat at the restaurant. There are a lot of other guest houses with good food, Hotel Shalini being one, known for its delicious rice and curry. A small grocery store, Cargills Food City, has a lot of western food items, fresh produce and meat, along with all the essential ingredients you may require to cook your own meals.
Mango Mango is yet another restaurant you can visit, with an air-conditioned seating arrangement and good food with large meal portions at good prices. The butter chicken, chicken korma and a cheese dosa are known to be good here.
Alcohol consumption in public is prohibited in Sri Lanka, and hence you’ll find isolated bars, including westernised guesthouses with a full bar, serving Carlsberg or Lion as the popular beer brands.
Anuradhapura’s Old Town has several street vendors for souvenir shopping, as does Mihintale, offering a variety of imitation artefacts, engraved wooden figurines, postcards, jewellery, masks and more. With most hawkers running behind you, tempting you with their wares, there will be a few who would have genuine ancient artefacts to offer.
Be careful in buying such items, as according to the Sri Lankan laws, items older than 100 years are not allowed to be shipped outside the country, leading to not only the loss of iconic ancient heritage, their damage & destruction but also ruining the country’s archeological accomplishments.
The New Town of Anuradhapura has a number of photo studios, food stalls, pharmacies and sari shops amidst others, where you can buy an assortment of things.
Located in a lush green and serene environment, Hotel Heladiv is located 6 km away from the SLAF Anuradhapura Airport. Free WiFi access is available. Each room here will provide you with a TV, air conditioning and a terrace.
Heaven Upon Rice Fields
Set in Anuradhapura, Heaven Upon Rice Fields offers accommodation with a patio or a balcony, free WiFi and TV, as well as a restaurant and a garden. There is a private bathroom with shower and a hairdryer in each unit, along with free toiletries.
Set in Anuradhapura, 6 km from Kuttam Pokuna, Twin Ponds, Hotel 4 U Saliya Garden offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a garden.
Villa Lorenta Anuradhapura
Conveniently situated in the centre of Anuradhapura, Villa Lorenta Anuradhapura provides air-conditioned rooms, a shared lounge and a garden.
With expansive marks of archeological feats and ancient temple ruins with massive Dagobas, your trip to Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka is going to be quite an experience. When the European culture was still in its nascent stage, Anuradhapura was at its peak with its wondrous architecture, masterpieces of art and extensive cultural contributions.
Renowned as a world heritage site, Anuradhapura, today houses some of the world’s most popular remnants and ruins built during the ancient rule. With amazing brick towers and age-old constructions of pools showcasing the city’s architectural artwork, Anuradhapura’s greatest accomplishment include its Dagobas, which were restored to attain their original glory with care and great consideration. There may not be a lot of fun options to explore in the city besides visiting the archeological wonders, but there are a few things to do in Anuradhapura during your visit.
Wildlife Jeep Safari
One of the most gorgeous national parks in Sri Lanka, taking a wildlife safari in Wilpatthu National Park is a very exciting prospect indeed. With several natural lakes covering the park’s landscapes and over 30 species of different animals that include the Sri Lankan leopard, Elephants, Spotted Deer, the Sloth Bear, Sambar, Buffalos and Mongoose; the wildlife safari can be covered in a Jeep to take you around in complete safety.
Enjoy camping in the midst of nature at the Wilpatthu National Park, roughly 7 km from the Park’s entrance and about 5 km from its boundary, or you can also visit the Habarana camp site to witness the Elephant Corridor camp with all the in-built modern facilities and scrumptious food choices.
Popular for its captivating coastline with pristine sceneries around the river, Anuradhapura attracts tourists in large numbers and has a number of evergreen rainforests and enchanting beaches to keep you engaged and mesmerized. Boating is another activity you can enjoy here, whether in a private boat or as part of a cruise to enjoy the natural wonders of the city.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
View the world below, high above on a hot air balloon with some breathtaking views of just not the city of Anuradhapura but the lovely tropical haven of Sri Lanka with licenses pilots to take you high and enjoy the enthralling views of the Rocky Mountains, lakes & rivers, lush greenery and the cultural attractions. This ride is best enjoyed early morning to make the most of the city visuals and take in the green landscaping. The best time for a hot air balloon ride is November through April.
Aboard the Wannemaduwa Tank at dawn, take a kayak tour of the wildlife and witness them at their most active state of being, while quietly paddling to avoid disturbing the natural habitat. With an experienced tour guide by your side, you will have double the fun with some memorable stories of the jungle. You will also have a pair of binoculars and a lifejacket to enjoy the kayaking tour, feeling safe and secure.
An excursion on a bicycle is as trendy and enjoyable as it can get to admire Anuradhapura’s simplistic beauty and witness the exotic group of birds as well as small wildlife along the route. Hire a guide or explore the sites on your own, this experience will only add to your book of memories!
For the fishing enthusiasts, there are fishing excursions for beginners and experts alike. You will be assisted by the locals and even equipped with a fishing kit for a memorable fishing experience. With a variety of excursion packages by travel companies in Anuradhapura, the fishing trips can be customized to your liking and budget with professional experts along with some full-day field trips.
The top sightseeing places in Anuradhapura are Sri Maha Bodhi, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Ruwanweliseya, Jetavanaramaya Monastery, Thuparamaya, Abhayagiri Vihara.
Anuradhapura is famous for being the ancient capital of Sri Lanka. This place is also famous for having the ruins that are preserved really well of the Sinhala civilization. So, this place has a lot of historical significance. And not only that, this place also has the famous Maha Bodhiya that increases its spiritual significance as well.
The top sightseeing places in Anuradhapura are Sri Maha Bodhi, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Ruwanweliseya, Jetavanaramaya Monastery, Thuparamaya, Abhayagiri Vihara.